Running out of metal?

Hi all. I just ran across a reference to a recent issue of New
Scientist magazine. An article claimed that the world’s supply of
platinum is on course to run out in 15 years if demand continues to
grow. Silver could also be gone in 15 years.

I don’t know anything about this magazine, but those are some scary
numbers to throw around. Does anyone out there have more optimistic

Allan Mason

Mining companies work on a supply/demand curve so new prospects and
mines open and get mothballed according to price and demand. We will
not run out of metals in 15 years time because if we start to, new
mines will open up in 10 years time as the price will have gone up
enough to make it profitable to do so. There is enough tin in
Cornwall in England to supply the world for almost ever but no-one
mines it because it is cheaper elsewhere.

If they mined all of the precious metals known about now then the
mining companies wouldnt have any future so they sit on a lot of
what they own and keep the price at a level which makes the
shareholders happy. Just look at the rise in mining stock over the
last 4 years. My cousin is a mining exploration geologist and was
looking for gold until last year and now it is uranium. He has found
enough gold to keep his company happy for a few years but they arent
going to extract a gram of it even though some of it is incredibly
easy to get to and high grade ore. If they did the price would go
down so why bother, it isnt going anywhere.


An article claimed that the world's supply of platinum is on course
to run out in 15 years if demand continues to grow 

It is a tiotally ridiculous figure…if i had time I’d write a letter
to the editor of the magazine. I am a member of the WGC, and there
are new silver and gold and platinum prospects, claims and placer
deposits opening at a pace that far exceeds the carrying capacity of
hte area being mined… which will not stop the minning concerns but
will produce usable products… don’t buy into all you see in
print-particularly periodicals, newspapers and anything else that is
advertising based!


Hey Nick,

And just wait till till we start digging up the landfills. For the
aluminum foil we tossed out from protecting our broiler pans, baked
potatoes and the gold we tossed out in the circuit boards and
computer chips we already threw away. Before they realized there was
so much precious metal in them… Of course they’ve already started
ti figure that out.


Given that the only silver mine in Idaho’s silver valley currently
operational is the Lucky Friday in Mullan, although some development
work was going on at the Sunshine when I last was in Kellogg some
years ago, and that most of the silver mines in SW Montana shut down
in 1893 due to the cessation of federal purchase of silver for
coinage, along with the Punjabi government’s similar action, I doubt
it very highly. If there is a shortage, the price will go up and old
silver properties will return to production. Incidentally, the Lucky
Friday has recently opened up a large ore body to the northwest of
its current workings that will keep them running for some time.

How about this: All the matter on earth has always been on earth,
and except for a few tons of space station, will always be on earth
and will never “run out.”

Take a look at this:

The source is

I chose the statistics from the USGS because they are comprehensive
and free of any known bias. It certainly is not my intention to
mislead anyone or distort the I believe the USGS
statistics to be generally accurate. Any other sources I checked all
confirmed the USGS data.

Commodity Production Reserves Resource Base

The rest of the USGS data is here:


Bill, Deborah & Michele
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx

WE could be gone in 15 years…I don’t think I’ll be too
concerned…If they are…we’ll just have to do without…won’t we?
There will be something twice as nice for us to use…I’ll bet.


Well, all we need is panic buying of these metals and soon none of
us will be able to pay the huge increases in the price of silver.


Hi Allan,

Those figures were challenged in a more recent issue of the magazine
as they don’t take into account any new discoveries of sources for
these metals or changes in recycling policies etc. They are based,
apparently, just on the current production figures of existing mines
and the current world consumption - as far as it is known. In
reality new finds are being made regularly and a great deal of
exploration work is being done in the more remote parts of Russia,
Canada, Australia etc. which are revealing new useful deposits.

Best wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

Commodity Production Reserves Resource Base

I’m sorry but some of the statements in the article just arent true.
for example, he says that the biggest use of gold is for jewellery,
it isnt. There is more gold in repositories like Fort Knox than in
all the jewellery in the world and dentistry uses 15 tons a year,
which is around 25% of world consumption. He ignore the use in
electronics and especially modern computers and mobile phones and
places an emphasis upon the photographic industry’s consumption of
silver which has actually fallen by 50% in the last 10 years.
Dentistry is no longer using the quantities of silver it did either
as bioglass cements are being used more and more for fillings.

Years ago we used to cut all the edges off old computer boards,
relay contacts, telephone exchange switches and the like and dissolve
the copper and other components away in nitric acid and recover the
gold and platinum used in them. The coatings are much thinner these
days so not as worthwhile but new deposits of precious metals are
being created in volcanic areas and elsewhere in gossans. If the
price of metals double are you going to throw away all those old
photographs or sell them to a refiner?

During WW2 a lot of celluloid film was recycled in the UK to make
explosives and glass plates were cleaned off to recycle the glass
but the silver didnt end up in the bin, it was recovered even though
the margins were very small with silver at 50c/oz It may be that
corpses will not be allowed to be cremated or buried with fillings in
the teeth due to mercury contamination and ruubish tips will probably
be mined to reclaim all of the metals thrown away in the past 5


If high price alone really worked than there would be more Rhodium
available and the price would come down!

Mark Chapman

LOL! Two questions-Both of which I’ll have to read for myself when I
buy a copy- Have we collectively forgotten about recycling above
ground metals? Since we do recycle iron at dollars per pound, think
how aggressive we already are at $150 per pound for silver. Let alone
platinum! The alleged fact that silver is more depleted really does
remind me that according to long past predictions, we have all ran
out of fresh water, food, oil and gasoline years ago. I’m not a New
Scientist reader I buy Scientific American. Now I’ll have to buy it
and read the article for myself. No fair sending copies, intellectual
property and all that! What month was that ?

How is it exactly that these scientists profess to “know what they
do not know”? How do you quantify undiscovered reserves?!!! Is that
anything like when I estimate sales, without knowing what these
metals will even cost at market rates? But, hey anybody very
concerned can call me right now and order your next fifteen years in
silver and I promise, we’ll find the metal to get to you. (Please
note the tongue in cheek!!) I love science, but predictions are
science at its least reliable. Just look at weather, five days tops
for accuracy. Ten is half speculation. But the data about yesterdays
storm is accurate and overwhelming. Does that make me a optimistic

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West
National Sales Manager


This may be thick reading,
Welcome to The Silver Institute Homepage is a
study commissioned by the very people who bring us gold and silver so
they can understand what is going on. The last thing a mine owner
wants is to have 8.00 an ounce into silver and find that investors
who have driven the price up are about to dump all the reserves they
hold. Also, you might want to try the various government papers on
the issue.

I think this is a busted myth.

Terry :slight_smile:

If high price alone really worked than there would be more Rhodium
available and the price would come down! 

That’s why ‘demand’ is a necessary component to supply.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is a specious statement, but
it’s also true. “Running out of Metal” is an economic statement
relating to the profitability of mines and finding reserves and
such. We still have all the silver we ever had, same with gold and
platinum. Mercury is a big one for depleted mines, btw. Metals are
elements, and remain unchanged through the eons of time. Problem is
it’s getting spread around thinner than mining can recover- that
wedding band that fell off your finger into the ocean, gold dust
going into the garbage can, etc. But it’s still there and it’s still
gold- and always will be.